The level of political rhetoric in Washington leaves much to be desired.
First, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid charges that Mitt Romney did not pay taxes for a decade. The information came from an extremely credible source, according to the Democrat from Nevada, who offered: Its clear Romney is hiding something.
The GOPs reply was blunt: I am not going to respond to a dirty liar, said Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus on ABCs This Week Sunday.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said on CNNs State of the Union that Sen. Reid is lying and making things up about Mr. Romneys tax history.
Instead of revealing his source or making evidence available about the charge, Sen. Reid called on Mr. Romney to disprove the allegation. Let him prove that he has paid taxes, because he hasnt, Mr. Reid said on the Senate floor.
The Republican candidate claimed last week that he has paid taxes every year and a lot of taxes. He has released his federal tax returns for 2010 and an estimate for 2011, and has pledged to release the full return for that year.
Harry Reid really has to put up or shut up, Mr. Romney told reporters last week. So, Harry, who are your sources?
Of course, the way to resolve the debate is for Mr. Romney to release more than two years of returns, which he is not obligated to do, but should do.
Meanwhile, such dustups divert attention from the real issues at stake during the presidential election unemployment, the economy, tax hikes and deep spending cuts due at years end, the Postal Services status, the Afghan war, Syria, managing climate change to name a few.
Mr. Romney can and should end the speculation about the years in question by releasing the information. But the partisan argument is much less important than the serious questions of how to govern this country in the next four years.